Privileged Hate

It’s really weird what’s going on in the West right now: we hate and maim and murder the least of these (children, via “abortion”) and trumpet the guilt of the “privileged” class. This madness is one reason I feel the need to respond to Dr. Christena Cleveland. 

Dr. Cleveland was asked by Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) leadership to speak to women, and men, at their recent national staff conference. We’ll leave the obvious “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over men” violation for another time and just deal with what she said, publicly and on the record. Exploring the “feminist” decision of Cru might be labeled sexist bigotry – forget that it’s addressed plainly in Scripture.

Over and over again, Dr. Cleveland wants Cru staff to feel guilty about their privileged backgrounds (how she knows all of their privileged backgrounds?). This, dear friends, is classism. Dr. Cleveland deeply wants privileged people to feel guilt over their “privilege.” Marx does much the same thing in the pages of Communist Manifesto, so it’s nothing new, really.

If classism is treating people differently based on their social or economic “class,” and it is evil, then we should also clarify the name of its brother, racism. Racism is treating any human differently, positively or negatively, based on skin color. Strangely, in the name of “racial reconciliation,” Dr. Cleveland speaks as a racist, too:

  • “Crusade needs to divest itself of whiteness and maleness,” she claims at one point.
  • The white, privileged class has “inherited a fault,” in gaining land 100+ years ago through government programs.
  • With a bit of class, race, and religious guilt, she claims, “Christians are accommodated in the West.”

The madness of liberalism is the desire to use racism to combat racism, to use murder to combat “unwanted” children, to use welfare to encourage work. The Bible does none of these. In fact, the Word of God goes to great, careful lengths to avoid racism when speaking of race, to avoid classism when speaking of class:

  • For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. Romans 10:12
  • For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace… Ephesians 2:14-15
  • Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

Phrases like “no distinction” and “there is not” teach us to stop looking at each other through the eyes of class and race. Trying to fight the fires of pride with more fiery arrogant racism is nonsense, Dr. Cleveland. Only Christ is the answer. Of him you spoke very little, seeming more interested in discussing race, class, and “white guilt.”

The Bible, conversely, is careful to condemn all of us – with actual evils we have done, not false ones – that we would come together to Christ.

 

 

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How to Produce Wet, Spineless, Feeble-Minded Men

Why are Western churches full of women, spineless men, and fewer and fewer children? Robbie Low, a vicar in the Church of England, investigates this trend in his Touchstone article, “The Truth about Men and Church.” After explaining a Swiss survey linking a father’s influence to his children’s church attendance, Low illumines various connections between fatherhood and the church: the church’s mission, feminism in the culture, the disintegration of the family, and the training of church leaders.

On the last connection, he drops this hammer of a quote on Western church culture:

One does not need to go very far through the procedures by which the Church of England selects its clergy or through its theological training to realize that it offers little place for genuine masculinity. The constant pressure for “flexibility,” “sensitivity,” “inclusivity,” and “collaborative ministry” is telling. There is nothing wrong with these concepts in themselves, but as they are taught and insisted upon, they bear no relation to what a man (the un-neutered man) understands them to mean.

Men are perfectly capable of being all these things without being wet, spineless, feeble-minded, or compromised, which is how these terms translate in the teaching. They will not produce men of faith or fathers of the faith communities. They will certainly not produce icons of Christ and charismatic apostles. They are very successful at producing malleable creatures of the institution, unburdened by authenticity or conviction and incapable of leading and challenging. Men, in short, who would not stand up in a draft.

The feminized church produces feminized men.

Though the characteristics named (“flexibility,” “sensitivity,” “inclusivity,” and “collaborative ministry”) don’t seem at first glance to be emasculating, Low explains what a feminized church really wants from their leaders: malleability, spinelessness, feeble faith.

In case we have forgotten, sensitivity, flexibility, inclusivity, and colloborative ministry aren’t fruits of the Spirit. Neither are they characteristics of Christian leaders. The Bible does tell us, however, of elders who “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Three of the primary jobs of the Christian leader are to hold fast the word, give sound instruction, and rebuke false teaching. Collaborating with false teachers in the name of “flexibility and inclusivity” won’t get that job done.

As Low puts it, then, the historical timeline for producing wet, spineless, feeble-minded pastors goes something like this:

  1. Fathers begin leaving families.
  2. Feminism (a “lie direct” in its name) takes hold in the culture.
  3. The Protestant church at large follows feminism as a controlling worldview.
  4. The church seeks more female leaders and more femininized male leaders.
  5. Unbelieving men leave the Protestant church en masse.
  6. Unbelieving men seek alternate views of manhood, exampled in womanizing, materialism, violence, and/or homosexuality.
  7. The Protestant church ignores these developments and continues in its unbelieving feminist ways, slightly tweaking its language to suit the culture.

Point #4 is where we want to zoom in. How exactly does the Protestant church tend to seek out female leaders and feminized male leaders? In my experience at least, it looks something like this:

  1. Manhood qua manhood is devalued and quickly neutered.
  2. Church language (contrary to the Bible’s language) becomes emasculated or neutered.
  3. Men, the local church, and families are soon evaluated in women’s terms.

If that seems a little far-fetched, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why are men in the church more often lauded for flexibility rather than strength?
  • Why is conviction seen as a sign of rigid bone-headedness rather than faithful service?
  • Why are churches more concerned with the soft skills of counseling and customer service rather than the hard skills of rightly dividing the Word and refuting sound doctrine?
  • Why do more and more worship songs sound like sappy high school poetry than the marching hymns of the King of Kings?
  • Why has church discipline, the protection of Christ’s body, been so often traded for quiet conversations and the overlooking of apostasy?
  • Why do our churches feel more like coffee shops than battlefield hospitals?
  • Why do we ask pastors to rightly manage their homes but are repulsed when they actually discipline their children? (Both, after all, are in the same passages.)

When we begin to pick at the surface, we quickly see that with manhood everything is at stake. As Low puts it, rejecting God’s good order of patriarchy rejects all three persons of the Trinity. No wonder our churches are full of convictionless men when we train convictionless leaders in a convictionless gospel.

A Land Dripping with Testosterone

Lately, research and anecdote have found that the result of Western feminism has been . . . the loss of femininity.

Imagine that.

Controversial as his insights may be, Turkish writer Yuksel Aytug was onto something when he explained how “Womanhood is Dying at the Olympics.” The Daily Mail’s photos, meant to retort Aytug’s thesis, were de facto support of it. In competitive settings, some female athletes have begun to look rather (fe)MALE.

Feminist’s abortion and “reproductive rights” wars have only further embedded the idea that women are better removed from the biology that displays their God-given differences from men. Feminists, in the end, would rather have women – business suits, power attitude, lean muscle and all – look and act like men.

Rather than God’s land dripping with milk and honey, where men and women complement each other with their beautiful differences, feminists envision a land dripping with testosterone.

Why Defending the Faith Requires Imagination

Trevin Wax reviews Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle’s book, Erasing Hell, which itself is a response to Rob Bell’s universalist manifesto, Love Wins. He recommends the book, but notes that Christians need to defend the faith using both the propositional and the aesthetic:

Erasing Hell is functional, but not beautiful. From a functional point of view, I recommend it. But I think we need to be pushed on the beautiful side of this equation as well. The gospel shouldn’t shut down our imagination, but rather fuel it and direct it toward the beauty that is inherent to the truth. We need more than analysis; we need artistry.

Wax’s main point is that last line: we don’t just need to understand truth, but see its beauty. In this, Wax earlier quotes Tim Keller talking about the vision of Jonathan Edwards:

Reason tells me about the truth, but I really cannot grasp what it means; I can’t understand it without art. Edwards said that unless you use imagination, unless you take a truth and you image it – which of course is art – you don’t know what it means. If you cannot visualize it, you don’t have a sense of it on your heart.

Here is a beautiful, God-centered vision of art: it helps the individual and the church understand the written truth of God’s Word so we can together see and enjoy His beauty with all of our God-given abilities.

“A La Carte” Sex, Love, and Parenting

Washington Times writer Joy Jones explains the state of marriage in the African American community, quoting one of her students who said, ‘Marriage Is for White People’:

Traditional notions of family, especially the extended family network, endure. But working mothers, unmarried couples living together, out-of-wedlock births, birth control, divorce and remarriage have transformed the social landscape. And no one seems to feel this more than African American women. One told me that with today’s changing mores, it’s hard to know “what normal looks like” when it comes to courtship, marriage and parenthood. Sex, love and childbearing have become a la carte choices rather than a package deal that comes with marriage.

She goes on to explain why longtime bachelors are harder to marry, why single African American women have much to lose in marriage, and why she recently turned down a marriage proposal.

Yet another newspaper chronicling the disease of me-centured culture eating away at the family, Jones’ article is long on facts and anecdotes but short on real help.

Ten Ways Children Are a Blessing

In reminding our pro-death, self-centric culture that children are a blessing, not a curse, I wanted to also show several practical ways children make our lives and world a better place:

  1. Children teach you that you don’t know it all.
  2. Children force you out of your comfort zone.
  3. Children teach you that you still need a Father, a Comforter, and a Savior.
  4. Children remind you that there are very many real things to fear.
  5. Children make you slow down.
  6. Children help you to enjoy life.
  7. Children remind us that our souls are made for more than this life.
  8. Children flip your world upside down and remind you that it’s not about you.
  9. Children remind us to make the most of every moment.
  10. Children remind us that we are always as helpless as they are before God.

On Teaching and Parenting Boys

As long as our country’s young men and grown men are in masculine confusion, we all are in need of help from all angles. Here are some direct suggestions for parents, teachers, and children in this Scholastic.com article, “Boy Trouble?“:

Encourage more boys to take leadership roles in school. By the time boys get into high school, girls dominate in all kinds of extracurricular activities—newspaper, chess club, yearbook, dramatics, student government—except for sports. Yet, participating in these nonacademic school activities ensures that students are an active part of the school community. They also teach leadership and responsibility and give students an opportunity to practice time-management skills. Get more dads involved in school…

Dads boast about never missing their sons’ soccer games, but when teachers invite parents into the classroom, it is mostly moms who show up…

Moms shouldn’t be the only ones checking homework, signing the report card, and reading the bedtime story, either. Little boys need to see men reading in order to understand the importance of becoming literate men.Hire more good male teachers.The number of male teachers is now at a 40-year low. What keeps men out? Male teachers, particularly those in the lower grades, complain that they are often treated with suspicion. When male teachers do get hired, they tend to move into administration faster than women.

In other words, the article says schools should:

  • Put boys into leadership (like the Bible says).
  • Teach boys to round out their character beyond athletics (like the Bible says).
  • Teach boys leadership, responsibility, and time-management (like the Bible says).
  • Call on grown men to live out their responsibilities as husbands, fathers, and leaders (like the Bible says).
  • Encourage fathers to lead in reading to their children (like the Bible says we should do in reading the Bible!).
  • Look for male teachers of character and integrity, and treat them as such (like the Bible says we should treat male leaders worthy of honor).

Again and again, the Bible speaks timelessly to these issues. Now we must listen.

How would your home, church, or school change for the better if young men and grown men lived out their God-given roles?

Life Isn’t About You

David Brooks’ NY Times piece debunks the “go find yourself” message we preach to college graduates:

Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly. Most of us are egotistical and most are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself.

A Midnight Gospel Conversation

As I headed to bed tonight during a family vacation, I heard a family member begin speaking with a family guest about religion. I thought it was a good example of asking hard and helpful questions and being faithful (though imperfect!) with the gospel.

The conversation went something like this:

  • Family Member: Well, what is your religious background?
  • Family Guest: My father and mother are Christians. I take lessons from the Bible, and I live my life by them, but I believe that when I die, I’ll be buried and cremated or whatever, and then that’s the end. If there is life after death, then I believe that I’ll go to where I should because of the way I’ve lived my life and conducted myself.
  • FM: Well that’s just a homemade philosophy.
  • FG: Well, that’s what I think, and I’ve heard about Jesus in church. But do I think that I have to ask someone for forgiveness for all my sins and that’s all it takes for salvation? No.
  • FM: You do realize that you are a sinner, right?
  • FG: That I’m the same as these people who run around doing crazy things? No.

And later:

  • FG: I don’t believe that we’re all created equal, because you just said that some people have advantages that others don’t have. So if you’re saying that some people are blessed and others cursed, I don’t believe in any god who does that.

Finally, a little later:

  • FG: People have invented God because they need something to hold onto during times of trouble. Every human being has the commonality of believing in a higher power during difficult times. We all yearn for something greater than us.
  • FM: Without that confession of sins and trust in Jesus Christ, you won’t go to heaven. You’ll go somewhere else, but not to heaven.
  • FG: Well, if you’re talking about confessing your sins, then I don’t do those things.
  • FM: What do you believe about God?
  • FG: My definition of god is anything and everything in this world that is good.

Thankfully, they ended the night by shaking hands and thanking each other for the meaningful conversation. The unbeliever also welcomed our prayers.

The Most Traumatic and Harmful Event for Children: Divorce

From The Wall Street Journal‘s review of the book,The Longevity Project

Some of the findings in “The Longevity Project” are surprising, others are troubling. Cheerful children, alas, turned out to be shorter-lived than their more sober classmates. The early death of a parent had no measurable effect on children’s life spans or mortality risk, but the long-term health effects of broken families were often devastating. Parental divorce during childhood emerged as the single strongest predictor of early death in adulthood. The grown children of divorced parents died almost five years earlier, on average, than children from intact families. The causes of death ranged from accidents and violence to cancer, heart attack and stroke. Parental break-ups remain, the authors say, among the most traumatic and harmful events for children.

So apparently issues like marriage and divorce do matter, if only to our children.

God Cares About Your Gender Identity More Than You Do

After a recent post on the gender-confusing recent events in Naperville, IL, I realized that I had lost something in the words – compassion for these sinners – administrators, organizers, and students alike. Today, I want to put it positively:

God Cares About Your Gender Identity More Than You Do
This theme starts right where it all starts for us – at creation. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them, (Genesis 1:27).”

God creates “man” in His image by creating two sides of the same coin – man and woman. Now, some people claim that this makes men and women indistinguishable, but that logic is backwards. The very fact that God delineates between men and women while placing them both squarely in the category of imago dei means that there is sameness (God’s image) and difference (gender).

This is confirmed in chapter two when God creates woman as man’s “helper” (Genesis 2:18). Here, man is created first, then woman – and the order matters. Man is created as the “head,” if you will, and woman is the “body.” Man is the servant leader, and woman the lead servant.

Both are important and valuable, but only one is the leader and only one is the helper – the greatest helper ever made! Greater than all the other creatures!

Sin Confirms and Contorts Gender Identity
Genesis 3 reveals the flip-side of gender roles. What does the Fall have to say about gender? Quite a lot, it turns out.

When Eve decides to listen to, then agree with, the serpentine tempter himself, Adam is standing around picking his nose. He’s not doing his job. Then, when God marches into the garden, He doesn’t call out both man and woman. He only calls for the husband: “Where are you?” The “you” here is masculine, 2nd-person, singular. “Where are you, Adam?” is what it means.

When God hands out the consequences for sin, Adam’s are worse than Eve’s. He gets his work (the ground) and life (back to dust) cursed; she only gets childbearing pain. I don’t mean to minimize childbearing pain, because both are serious punishment. Only Adam’s is called a curse.

We see, then, that the Fall confirms and contorts gender roles. He who God created to be a leader had followed his wife be eating the fruit she handed to him, then when God came to ask him about it he blamed her. We see that the gender roles – the very man+wife relationship – is all twisted, backwards, and upside-down.

God Still Cares More
In so many stories of the Bible – Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Boaz and Ruth, Christ and His female disciples – we have pictures of what it means to be a godly man and a godly woman in the marriage relationship. And since marriage is the penultimate relationship to the infinite God-man union, marriage has much to say about gender roles.

As we have seen, God didn’t create men and women as arbitrary, pointless, basically identical sets of people. No, he made men and women both in His image, but both very different. Only one is the leader; and one is the right helpmate.

Oh, lost man or woman, confused about what it means to be male or female, know this – God made you as He did for a purpose! Embrace it! Don’t let this world tell you what it means to be a man or woman! Look to your Maker! Look to the One who lived, died, and rose again for confused, helpless men and women! Trust in Christ!

See, God wants us to know Him as Father, not Mother. God wants us to know Him as Groom, not Bride. God wants us to know Christ as Brother, not Sister. God cares about gender, and He cares more about your gender identity more than you do.

Get Low and Chilled to the Bone

We watched the funny, thoughtful, death-ly serious movie, Get Low, tonight. The finale was soul-chilling.

Protagonist Felix Bush gets up to speak at his own funeral party. At long last, after a movie saturated with questions, guilt, and suspense, Felix is going to tell us the truth. He’s longed for forgiveness and freedom – though on his terms, not God’s – and at the last he’ll reveal his own “unforgiveable” sin.

What casts a cold pallor over the soul isn’t only the tale he tells – though that is chilling enough by itself – it’s the biblical truth underlying what happened. The Bible teaches that when one man intrudes into another man’s family – by adultery, fornication, rape, or violence – there will generally be blood to pay.

The Scriptures do not condone violence-for-violence; they rather teach the opposite – forgiveness and reconciliation (Romans 12:17-21). Yet, the Bible accurately reveals that the bent of the sin-soaked human heart during such family-breaking situations will be to deal in blood what was taken in blood (Proverbs 6:27-35). “He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.”

Even if movie-makers don’t respect the marriage covenant anymore, they can’t avoid the fact that real people do. Felix Bush spoke of how he ruined three people’s lives with his marriage-rupturing sin; but, through his tears, he was warning me.

Vague English: Here to Stay?

From Clark Whelton’s thoughtful, oft-hilarious article, “What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness,”

At long last, it dawned on me: Vagueness was not a campus fad or just another generational raid on proper locution. It was a coup. Linguistic rabble had stormed the grammar palace. The principles of effective speech had gone up in flames.

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